Two pieces on The Surge today, one by Michael Kinsley, one by Charles Krauthammer. Bascially, Kinsley wonders what's so great about the surge if, by next summer we are only able to withdraw to the same troop levels we were at before it started. (Good question.) Krauthammer, on the other hand, sees the surge-wrought improvements in security and indications of what we know as "political progress" in Iraq and wonders why Democrats can't admit the surge is working.
Kinsley's bottom line:
So the best we can hope for, in terms of American troops risking their lives in Iraq, is that there will be just as many in July -- and probably in January, when time runs out -- as there were a year ago. The surge will have surged in and surged out, leaving us back where we started. Maybe the situation in Baghdad, or the whole country, will have improved. But apparently it won't have improved enough to risk an actual reduction in the American troop commitment.
Krauthammer's bottom line:
Despite all the progress military and political, the Democrats remain unwavering in their commitment to withdrawal on an artificial timetable that inherently jeopardizes our "very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."
Why? Imagine the transformative effects in the region and indeed in the entire Muslim world, of achieving a secure and stable Iraq, friendly to the United States and victorious over al-Qaeda. Are the Democrats so intent on denying George Bush retroactive vindication for a war they insist is his that they would deny their own country a now achievable victory?
Kinsley is pretty blase about political progress; his measure of success is the withdrawal of American troops. Krauthammer remains committed to creating a viable Iraq before withdrawing. I'm going to say I don't entirely support either of them. The United States has security concerns in and around Iraq that are not served by Kinsley’s one-track policy of withdrawal. Nor are those concerns addressed by severely costly efforts at nation-building in Iraq. That’s because our problems in the region come down to 1) OPEC blackmail and 2) the export of sharia/jihadist terrorism. Neither Kinsley withdrawal policy nor Krauthammer’s policy to build democracy in Iraq addresses either. Krauthammer writes this about his goal: “Imagine the transformative effects in the region and indeed in the entire Muslim world, of achieving a secure and stable Iraq, friendly to the United States and victorious over al-Qaeda.”
“Transformative effects”? I dunno. I look across the Iraqi border and see in Kuwait “a secure and stable” state, to be sure, “friendly”(ish) to the United States, and “victorious” over Saddam Hussein—the fruits of an earlier and easier victory. But there was absolutely nothing transformative about that accomplishment, not in the region and not in the entire Muslim world. What about Iraq? I would love to ask surge enthusiasts like Mr. Krauthammer, What do we GET at the end of the day (years) out of our investment in Iraq? What we have so far, as I am wont to note, is a Hezbollah-supporting, Israel-boycott-participating, OPEC member and sharia state (that just last month sentenced a Kurdish writer to prison for “blasphemy”). Not exactly the door prize.